Thursday, December 19, 2013

Walking to Bethlehem

I'm up at the Jesuit Center for the night, sitting in the reception area and checking up on my students taking their finals -- for I have eaten of the tree of knowledge, and now know there is wi-fi here.  My editor at CatholicPhilly wondered if I might write something about how the fourth week of Advent, so rarely even a true week, gets subsumed under Christmas' proximity.  Which got me thinking...and writing.  The photos is from my walk....

St. Cyril of Alexander dismisses Mary and Joseph’s journey as a plot device: “the occasion of the census conveniently caused the virgin to go to Bethlehem, so that we might see another prophecy fulfilled.” Convenient isn’t quite the word I would use for an 80-mile trip whether on foot or aback a donkey while 9 months pregnant, and I’m pretty sure Mary wouldn’t describe it that way either. I have a tough time seeing that 80-mile journey to Bethlehem as nothing more than one leg of a Divine scavenger hunt.

 I’m wondering what Mary and Joseph talked about as they walked, for a week or ten days. What did they say to each other around the fire each night? Was God’s hope we would see this journey not so much as checking off another prophecy, but a way to model for us contemplative prayer?


  1. Mary and Joseph must have had so many questions about the future and about this little baby about to be born. Yet they trusted. Trust is the lesson for me - trust when all we can do is believe that the God who has looked after us until this moment, will continue to look after us in the next moment and the moment after that and so on.

    1. Indeed, they had to trust that they would arrive safely...we all get where we are going step by step!